The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which is in force in Jammu and Kashmir, is an abusive law that feeds a cycle of impunity for human rights violations. The law grants virtual immunity to members of the security forces from prosecution for alleged human rights violations.
Not a single member of the security forces deployed in the state has been tried for human rights violations in a civilian court. The central government has denied permission, or ‘sanction’, to prosecute security force personnel under the AFSPA in every case brought against members of the army or paramilitary, or has kept the decision pending for years.
The “Broken Families” campaign highlights the violations of the right to justice enabled by the AFSPA.
Impunity is a long-standing problem in Jammu and Kashmir. The lack of political will to account for past and present actions of the security forces, including the state police, is fortified by legislation and aggravated by other obstacles to justice, especially for those who lack financial resources or education. To date, not a single alleged perpetrator of a human rights violation has been prosecuted in a civilian court. Victims and their families routinely face intimidation and threats from the security forces when attempting to bring cases against soldiers.
The climate of impunity encourages human rights violations to continue. Faith in the government and judiciary is almost non-existent in Jammu and Kashmir. Although human rights defenders and activists say that levels of violence from armed groups have gone down in recent years, as have direct threats and intimidation by the army and other security forces, obtaining justice continues to remain out of reach.
In Jammu and Kashmir, ensuring accountability would include ensuring access to information for victims and families during police investigations, and guaranteeing due process when victims attempt to bring complaints against their abusers.
Addressing Jammu and Kashmir’s impunity problem, and indeed India’s attitude towards impunity, is a challenge; but it is essential to ensure justice to victims of human rights violations, and facilitate the healing process for those who have suffered during the course of Jammu and Kashmir’s decades of struggle and alienation.
The objective behind the Families’ Tour is to take their stories of long fight for justice to the people across India to generate awareness about their cases and also to urge the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Home to provide them with all the information related to the sanction requests in their cases.
This campaign has been concluded.